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Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 12:39 pm
by agesofelegance
Not 100% sure of that Sally, I've a few links I can post on my computer at home so will do when I get there tomorrow. It may just be easier to put the labels in though they don't cost that much and one bathc will last a very long time
Morplan however don't do 100% linen labels I've just had to had some specailly printed for a job I'm doing

Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 12:51 pm
by Shadowcat
But what happens when you use silk/linen/synthetic/braid/beading and other fabrics in one garment. The list would be longer than the bodice!


Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 1:00 pm
by Neibelungen
There's a big list of items that don't need to have labels on them, such as belts, hats bags and purses, vintage clothing etc. A check with your local treding standards office should give you the details of what's in the complete list.

Also labels do not have to be permenant, they are allowed to be removeable, they just have to have one. I gather America is a lot more fussy about these types of things, expecting them to be in a particular spot on the back of the neck 5" above the base of the arm scye or something like that.

Labels can also be on the packaging, or if a wholesale, can be included in the paperwork rather than the item.

And a hobby maker is excluded from these obligations either. I gather that if you do more than two carboot type sales in a year your considered to be running it as a business and have to comply with legislation, even if your selling off your own kit.

I'm not sure what the 'made in' country label is requirements. I don't think it's compulsory in this country apart from food, but i think it is for America, so worth checking if you export regularly.

I think the business Link website also carries some details on this.

Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 1:03 pm
by Neibelungen
Ooops missed the n't off the end of hobby maker.

It should read
" a hobby maker isn't excluded"

Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 1:41 pm
by agesofelegance
Hi shadowcat
you have to list the main component items such as linings and top fabric. I don't think you ahev to list the trim fabric i.e braid yes the layers of labels get mighty deep. if you are suing a mixed fibre braid etc you can get a label which says 'mixed fibres'
the best way to check is to see what your bought clothes labels say and the complexity involved
For instance in a job i am doing for a client atm which will be sold across the globea s a collection, for the jackets I have a wool label for the top fabric and a linen one for the lining. However I don't need to say 'top fabric wool' 'linen lining' on them just have a 100% linen and 100% wool label. There is also then the size label and the wash care label as well as teh Made in GB label. This particular client wanted a made in scotland label but it would have been illegal atm until we can move production up there.
I fold them all over and stitch in a pile to teh name label and put in teh back of the neck for ease. or put in the side seam during manufacture

In some lingerie I am also doing for wholesale I have a 100% silk label but don't need for the ribbon etc but do need a wash care label, size and if selling abroad depending on which country it goes to a made in england label. For the made in label you ahev to abide by the trading laws of the country it is going to NOT ours some such as the US are stricter. With the wash care labels it also means you are covered legally so good for protection

I don't bother with this if it's for bespoke clients, which is most of my work, as it is not necessary.

Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 3:09 pm
by Shadowcat
Ah, the last sentence says it all. All my clients are bespoke, so it will not be a problem - phew!! The receipts are fully detailed and say "X metres of silk", "X metres of linen" etc, so it looks as though I may be in the clear.


Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 4:22 pm
by Drachelis
that url ws very helpful - thanks - I presume that if labels can be on packaging and not permanently a clearly written price label attached to the garment stating these and also the " hand made", "Hand Finished" or whatever and " Made in" information

At the Historic Traders division of the National Market Traders association agm at Tewkesbury last, they had a Trading standards less giiving a talk - one of the questions asked on labelling was what to do if you were not sure of the composition of the fabric used - she told us that it was acceptable in these cases to put " mixed fibres " for this and for when the beakdown of percentage wasn't known.

As far as wash insructions - I either label dry clean only or handwash with care if appropriate.

Shadowlight Designs

Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 8:11 pm
by Lucy Cassidy
Hi Folks,

I'll add my two-pennorth to the original post: if someone could come up with a way of getting across that message "our time costs money" then I would jump up and down with glee.

25 years ago, in a previous incarnation, I was one of the earliest costume suppliers in ECW re-enactment. Usual story: joined, was offered dishrags to wear, made own costume, people said "cor, make me one?" , improved my patterns etc, made hundreds, went professional.

I always had printed order forms for every type of garment, I used to hand them out at musters: they'd come back with measurement and a cheque. This made cashflow comfortable and easy!

For fitted stuff, the order form clearly stated which measurements I wanted: I would then make up a toile and post it to the customer for them to try on and return with comments. If it was vastly wrong, I'd make another one, etc. I usually only had to do the one toile: often if the measurements struck me as odd, I could phone for clarification. You know how you get a feel for what's right....

At musters, I used to carry a bagful of semi-toiles, and would pin them onto the client then and there. This was the best way, obviously.

Regarding guilds, well, I started pushing for a guild way back then, but it really is not workable. As has already been said: "who says what's good?"

No-one was prepared to stand up and say "your stuff is just not good enough", especially to bolshy madams like (better not say it.....!) who produced complete tat, very cheaply.

I can't imagine that anything has changed.

Way back then we had that problem of new people wandering around the stalls buying tat: in my regiment, we made a booklet of what we thought at that time was good, and gave it to all new bods with instructions not to walk alone through the stalls! (it would be interesting to read that booklet now, to see if any of it is shreikable now!)

Regarding copying, ooh yes, had some of that: I was so flattered the first time I saw a C17th suit that looked just like my work - except for the acid green colour.......

And after 18 years of it, yes, I grew fed up with cheapskate re-enactors and when my circumstances changed disastrously, I just dropped the whole thing. Sold off everything I had, including my own kit, and just fell off the face of the earth.

It all went very quiet...

.....and after some years working as a wage slave, I realised the full value of my hourly rate. Now, in my current incarnation, I only make shirts, so no fittings: prices are based on materials and how long they take to make.

I have a website that has lots of piccies, and prices. No negotiating, no discussion: that's the price, take it or leave it, and it is very refreshing not to have to justify it. Put a price on a peaceful heart, if you can! No stalls, no trading, it just sits there getting orders for me. Oh, but of course I don't do it for a living any more, it's now my part-time job and takes about one quarter of my working time.

My personal breakthrough was in pulling back from the re-enactors, and making less authentic shirts for the general public to wear.

Believe me, I'd love to serve re-enactors again, but I don't think that they are prepared to spend the money - except for the dedicated few, of course, and they are already doing their bit.

I shall certainly encompass the comments about labelling, thanks everyone for that info: bizarrely, I have just bought a tagging gun and have made my own little "lables" so that I can advertise them on (looks around to ensure that no-one is listening)(whisper quietly) ebay (ducks to avoid hail of pots, pans etc) where you get a better price for BNWT or Brand New With Tags. Now I'll just ensure that they have the right info on them, and that's an unforseen problem avoided.

Whoops, sorry for such a long post.

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:07 am
by Kate Tiler
Thanks Lucy, very interesting - & lots of brilliant people who post here also sell on ebay :) I think it was very brave of you to walk away from selling to the re-enactment scene, but I agree from the inside its very easy to forget that there is a wider world out there with different requirements & likes & dislikes.

I've always found it a good thing to be the 'odd one out' especially being the only re-enactor/living history business represented at say a Business Link promotion - you stand out from the crowd wearing costume in a room full of 200 business managers in suits! Its such a unique selling point - as long as you are unique, rather than trying to shout up for business at a re-enactor's market, for instance. (Not that there is anything wrong in re-enactor's markets) If you have a product that crosses over & appeals to non-reenactors there is a much bigger potential for clients in the wider public.

Also having the forsight to stop and take stock of where you are and where you want to be. Its difficult to do when you are successful, surprisingly! The best times I've had where I have been able to make decisions that have hugely affected my long term goals and achievements have all come as a result of either a period of no work coming in or something going wrong, which has ended up being an opportunity.

All the time I'm being successful & working flat out I don't get time to think 'is this the best use of my time & skills?' because I'm too busy travelling & planning.

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:43 pm
by Lucy Cassidy
Hi Kate, Hi everyone:

I gave this a lot of thought overnight, and this morning (while running up a shirt: I kept a note of my times, it took five and a half hours. Material costs £14.50: 4yds white lawn @ £3/yd plus £2.50 for findings. And I sell them for £45.......)( sorry, for JUST £45!) and I dug out my notes from the time. This has prompted some further suggestions/comments.

Kate, you are so right about being the only one in costume! If you can make the break from re-enactment, a whole new world opens up.

First point: we are all FANTASTIC at what we do: our skill levels are amazing, cutting skills alone have already been valued on this thread at £30/hour. I've been lurking for quite some time, and I've quietly checked out a lot of your/our websites, so I know that I am right.

We are massively undervalued by (mostly) re-enactors. And we need to move away from that position, otherwise we will give up doing it, and our skills will eventually be lost. Imagine some of you amazing corset artists reduced to just making fairy frocks for the school play......

So how do we increase our value?

One: move away from anything that says "market". Someone earlier made the point about adding up the real costs of attending a traders market, and gave the wonderful concept of standing on the drive handing out fivers as being just about as cost-efficient. Markets are for cheap stuff. <Potentially libellous material deleted by Paul Murphy, 23/3/06, 14:15> When people go to markets, they expect to get bargains. By all means go to Conferences, Forums, Conventions, Showcases..... but not markets. Be exclusive. Be "reassuringly expensive". Be the one about whom people say "wow, you can afford a XXXX item, cor, I'm still saving up for mine".

Two: broaden your market - I used to make double the money (easily) sellling C17th and C15th costume to:
Tourist attractions (dressed dummies, Swanage through the ages etc)
Museums (static exhibits and LH bods)
small Stately Homes (dummies and bods, once the tea-room staff!!)
Schools (kiddy sized versions for dressing up)
Conference venues (where paying visitors dress up for dinner in Meddy-evil style - well, they paid me a lot of money)

How do you get them? 20 years ago I used to go through the Yellow Pages in the library, make a hit list, then type out some targeted letters saying "ever thought about having a display/dressing up your staff? Look at my stuff, I'm brilliant and I've done lots of these, to great success" and enclose a relevant photo. Nowadays it must be so much easier/quicker, with internet research and email. To be sure, it does take a bit of nerve to write your own "puff", but it gets easier. Especially once you've made the first commission, cos them you send photos of that one to everyone in the same field, saying "look what your rival XX did recently". You very quickly build up a list of past conquests.

Three: get a website. If you haven't already got one, GET ONE!! It's not as difficult as it looks, they don't have to be complicated: in fact, the simpler the better. Your name, what you do, lots of pictures of it, what it costs, how to order.

Four: if you make costume/corsets/anything small and flowery, GET INTO THE BRIDAL ARENA! Best profit I ever made, C17th outfits for bride, groom, and two bridesmaids. I charged them three times normal. The bride's mother told me later than the whole lot cost less than she had planned to spend on the bride's dress. (they always tell you this after, don't they?) It's a never-ending succession of customers, they are always very very happy (no more grumpy re-enactors he he), and willing to spend a lot of money: you normally get given some really good professional photos of The Day, which look great in your portfolio (whaddya mean you don't have one? Get a digital camera and get out there with it: everything you make, photos both while freshly made in the "studio" and in action.) I'm not even mentioning the many advantages of a roomful of silk against a roomful of thick woollen fabric....

Five: check out places like and I've just given my details to the first one, and they will be featuring me soon. In case you haven't encountered them, it's a website showcasing designers. (And yes, we may be historically based, but we are all designers, and I'd challenge anyone who denied it.) It's free, and it's publicity, and it's a link to your own website - see Three above - which therefore pushes up your page ranking.

Kate is right about another thing, it's easy to just carry one while you are busy: and it's hard to take time out to stand back and think about it. But I was very affected/enraged/mortified by the comment earlier about the chap who criticised an item saying "huh I can make it cheaper than that" then came back and ate humble pie later. OK, he came back and bought two, and retracted his comments, but the damage was done: to the hard-working supplier, and to everyone stood around at the time, and I suspect that the customer spent a week tellling everyone "I'm not going to pay those rip-off prices, I'll make my own." This all contributes to our perceived lack of value. It might be worth taking Kate's time to step back and look hard at what you do, and whether you should consider trying the commercial (non re-enactor) market.

And one final comment about re-enactor attitudes; last year I put a message on the Sealed Knit website about a shirt I had for sale on ebay (trying it out to see what prices I might get) and got some very strange responses. One from an anonymous bloke ranting about "if you're going to sell f***ng shirts, get them f***ng right": this mystified me as, to the best of my knowledge, my patterns were/are thoroughly researched and about as accurate as they can be. So I asked him, politely, to explain how they were wrong so that I could change them. Got some more abuse, but no details of what he thought was wrong. Another weird one was from a right little madam <and that bit...PJM>, she seemed to be the self-appointed Inspector of Everything for the SK, she waffled on at great length about how they needed a good supplier of reasonably priced linens shirts in order to get people away from inaccurate cotton stuff. When pressed as to what price she considered "reasonable" she wanted them for about £20!!!

Whew, going away for a lie down. Thanks for listening.

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 1:28 pm
by DomT
I hope people dont mind me posting here as principly a customer. (My other half makes stuff for me and a few friends, she's sold a few peices and is looking at selling a few small handmade points etc. My father is a mastercraftsman in his field. So I'm not talking just as a punter.)

The British (or Oz, US or whatever) based costumer is really going to have to think hard soon. There are hordes of cheap foreign producers waiting in the wings. Polish, Czech and Indian makers are out there doing cheap or mid grade stuff at very reasonable prices. I was able to buy a cheap linen, machine stiched but other wise reasonably authentic 15thC shirt for just over a tenner including postage recently. A very cheap and moderately nasty peasanty linen tunic was about £15. I see GDFB are introducing a line of arming jack's and clothing, no doubt produced in India as is their mail.
This will kill all but passing 'I need it NOW!' cheapo trade. I see no harm in this.
These garments are generally no worse and often better than the lowgrade stuff churned out and seen on a lot of stalls and considerably cheaper. I'd rather el newbie re-enactor had a semi authentic linen shirt than a totaly unauthentic cotton thing.
This leaves the quality end to the domestic trader and the home enthusiast. There is simply no way, in my opinion, to compete with the foreign labour costs so why try? Go for the made to measure, high quality end and charge accordingly.

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 1:51 pm
by agesofelegance
Hi lucy
I read your post with interest as the re-enactment market has always been just a small part of my work.
I came into it form the real world about 18 years ago after working both in fashion, film and theatre so charged 'real' prices which then were £15 ph. I still work in those areas

I haven't traded at TORM for about 10 years and it never made any difference to my income I had a stand at Dave's market in Feb not expecting to sell anything as I'm too expensive but because I could be there. I didn't but had a fab time anyway and will be bakc in october. I never made for any regiments I've been a part of as no one could afford me, damn it I can't afford me LOL

The shows I do do occasionally are the big ones such as the National wedding show with stands at £1200+ I more than make my money there.
Having had a website for about 7 years I was able to leave london and take some time out as I didn't then need to earn the £2,000 a month I needed to exist down there, so didn't need a price increase

Jobs are costed down to the last penny so that the reason a rifle jacket costs £850 is becasue it's five days work at £150 a day and £100 in fabric
Shirts are £100 because it's about half a day and £15 in fabric. They have been those prices for about 10 years

There is about 0.00001% of any market which will pay proper prices and in order to survive I have had to cover all of them, whether it be goth, fetish, Larp, Museum, fashion, film, theatre or bridal and at any moment can be making a chicken, a wedding dress or a napoleonic uniform, often all at the same time :-(


Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 5:54 pm
by Lucy Cassidy
Hi Dawn,

Kind of you to reply: and guess what, you are one of the ones I very much had in mind when describing us as "FANTASTIC!" as your stuff is (in my opinon) superb, and your website shows how it can be done. (have you had time to check out, I feel sure that they'd love to showcase your stuff!)

You are a great example of what I am saying - and it ties in with what Dom said above you - in that we cannot expect to make a half-way decent living from the re-enactment market. There just isn't the money in it.

Dom is right, in my opinion, that it makes sense to leave the "budget" end of the market to the foreign imports. Yes, I know it hurts, but as he says, better to encourage people to buy foreign linen shirts and, if you think fit, alter them, than to break your neck and your heart trying to compete.

In fact, bearing in mind my abridged post above ( :oops: here's me with two sets of red cheeks from being slapped!) it might actually be a good thing to drive out some of the tat at the lower end of the market. See, there's that word "market" again. Market = cheap.

Anyone else agree?

Oh, and PS Kate Tiler, I think that your baby hands and feet tiles are "SOOOO" perfect for indiequarter, they will all go gooey over that wonderful photo.

Perhaps, if other people agree with the idea of broadening our sales arena (note cunning avoidance of the word "market") we could have a place to add suggestions for getting yourself out there, such as those I mentioned. There must be more: I only found those two because one of my clients mentioned them.

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 8:39 pm
by purple peril
Speaking as someone largely self-taught, who has never done costume-making on a large scale (and thus have never been any kind of competition for the likes of Dawn/ Debs, et al), I've never been very good at pricing my work to reflect the worth of what's gone into making it all, so this discussion has been extremely useful.
I've had a broad spectrum of customers over the past few years, from a complete newbie to reenactment who couldn't believe that the fact he wanted to basically jump the queue in my order book was going to cost him more (he was very pushy, then completely dissed my stuff and seemed to have a problem paying what I asked anyway and I had a fight to receive any payment at all in the end), to someone who RAN up to me at Hastings last year to ask me to make him several largish items of Norman soft kit "because I've heard you're very good and your stuff looks right", then agreed to the not inconsiderable price I quoted him and has paid promptly. Always nice :D
I don't see this as a profession, as I have a job and am studying part time, just an enjoyable hobby that also happens to pay me a bit extra every now and then.

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 8:59 pm
by Kate Tiler
Hi PP! your status as talented semi-profesional -
I don't see this as a profession, as I have a job and am studying part time, just an enjoyable hobby that also happens to pay me a bit extra every now and then.
is actually a lot closer to how many people who trade have to work too, some of the largest re-enactment traders that have been established for years & years are still working day jobs till they retire!

Also even those of us who are 'professional' do so many other part-time jobs, albeit self-employed jobs, because to fling them aside & try to support ourselves solely as a maker would mean things getting a bit cold & draughty come November!

I have many plates spinning, I work as an artist in schools in many media, I work as a Tudor in schools, I work events as a demonstrator and just occasionally I sell tiles! This year has been the exception to that, almost exclusively tiles since last October, but once April starts that is over and I'm back to schools & events.

I'm a strong believer in 'positive intention', however you want to phrase that, and being open to opportunities. Making tiles exclusively for the past 3 months is the fulfilment of an intention I stated at the beginning of last year and it has been an interesting & quite hard experience, quite a threshold to break through in terms of sticking at it & being motivated to go out & keep working.

Just to finish (back in a week or so!) when I started working in schools as an artist in 2000/2001, it was as a volunteer at a special needs school, one morning a week, which was ideal for my circumstances at the time. I was able to try out lots of ideas in a really low-pressure, supportive atmosphere and I built up a portfolio of ideas, practices and examples that I could then confidently take into a mainstream class of 30 when I was ready.

I think its a great idea to start out with what you enjoy as a hobby & not feel pressured to turn it into a full time occupation - business start up is the hardest time & it can be a long time between jobs.

As a last example, I gave up the day job in 2000 with my first large tile commission and it was July 2005 before I was asked to design another large scale proiect! Good job I wasn't sat waiting for the phone to ring... :shock:

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 9:49 pm
by gregory23b
I love this thread.

FWIW - myself and Lawrence the mosaicist have already started the beyond reenactment as we are Artists in Residence at Bury ST Edmunds Cathedral, Friday Oct 13th to Weds 18th October. Talk about in at the deep end, not so much the event as the place itself. We will have to advertise locally and regionally with circumspection, ie limited budget but we realise that the Cathedral is a popular place but need to balance the event with any sales made etc.

Not my day job although the historical stuff I do is a busman's holiday for a graphic designer but what is odd is having to market one's self, it is easy for me to account manage my clients etc but somehow this is a new ball game, not yet an aspiration to rock the world but to make it an important part of my income and keeping me sane. I am further back down the path from Kate in that I do demos, education, interpretation, fab events like Middlewich and commissions but in much smaller scale as it fits around my normal self-employment.

Reading Kate's posts on this (not the first time she has talked about this with such enthusiasm) always gives me the mental boost I need when I get a bit tired or anxious, not about self employment but about a new venture. Can't complain though did much better in my first year than I ever imagined.

Kate if we ever create a post for Officer of breath of fresh air in trading you get my vote, seriously you are a very inspiring and doggedly enthusiastic person. (your cooked mud stuff is not bad either ;-) xx)

All the posts here have fired me up for the coming season and I thank you all for that.


Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 10:02 pm
by Kate Tiler
((((Jorge)))) thanks :D

From another angle

Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 11:30 am
by Dathi
As a buyer of clothing and goods from Traders I thought I'd throw my penny in.

On labour costs. I have a number of different rates for my body, depending on where I'm working. When I throw green (or Brown) on and take one of Toney Bliar free holidays I'm paid about £90 a day, with that I get free food, bed and clothing (plus all the bullets I can carry) and some other benefits that all add up (Free medical, dental, gym, flights home). When I work in a suit I charge at least £100 a day for my body/brain. So to me, paying someone an hourly rate of about £20 seems normal. If I earn £100 a day why shouldn't someone in a different but complex trade earn that much at least.

When I look to buy kit I look for a mixture of "correctness" and word of mouth. If someone makes kit that looks, and behaves, as it should from fabrics as close to the orginal as possible then I'm interested. If that person has a good reputation then I'm very interested. If that person reacts in a porfessional manner when I approach them for a quote/time scale/costing then I'll place an order.

I'm currently putting together an outfit for a 1630's gentleman and have discovered to do it correctly that each part of the whole outfit runs into 3 figures per piece. Which since I want the outfit to be as close to correct as possible is a case of tough shite. Oh well....

So, I have no problems with Traders who make good kit and charge real prices for their time and materials.

Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 9:23 pm
by Tuppence
I was quite lucky when I set up, in that I had some very knowledgeable people giving me advice on what to charge and what to 'not be afraid of charging' would probably be the best way to put it.

One was Nige (who better than an accountant to teach you about money!), the second was Mark Beabey (nuff said), the third was a friend from Conquest who was the marketing manager for BCA (best bit of advice - make it easy for people to spend money with you).

Have largely stuck to their advice all along (supplemented by what I've learned and / or worked out myself), and so far haven't gone too far wrong (fingers crossed!).

I have to say that I do object slightly to the whole idea about the word market equalling cheap - or to the idea that that's people's perception of the word - mainly because it's not an accurate statement. No one I know percieves that the goods at the re-enactor's market will be cheaper than at any other event simply because of semantics. In fact some believe the reverse (that the goods at such a big event will cost more).

That said I only 'trade' three times a year (ish) - at the two ORMs and at Tewkers. That and the net keep me busy enough!!

As to the idea that re-enactment cannot sustain you - that's not true, it can - there is enough work in the re-enactment sector, and work at a decent price level to keep anyone happy - the tricky part is tapping into it, and in making it match your interests.

That said, given that my first really big order was for EH, I've never really concentrated on one area - if you want clothing that's historical or semi-historical, you're a potential customer, whether a re-enactor, a museum, an actor, or whatever.

I do agree about the lower 'stock' end of the market being pushed out by cheaper imports, though. Fortunately this doesn't affect me that much, as most of what I do is bespoke. (Tricky to do that from India/China et al!!)

And with the padded armour thing I'm helped enormously by recommendations from lots of armourers, and by the nice chaps who forget to get arming doublets when ordering their armour, and have to have something made that will work with the armour they already have :lol: ).

And with regard to the 'ripping off'. That is probably the one thing that pees me off more than anything else. I know it happens in all areas of clothing (not just historical), and I know there's not much you can do about it, but it's annoying.
I think the thing that annoys me most of all is the blatant rippers off.

Example 1: when I was still costuming part time (and young and naiive), a certain costumer asked me to make her a corset, linen hosen (C16th) and a padded jack, because she'd taken an order and couldn't make said items. Guess what miraculously appeared on her next price list???

Example 2: talking to same costumer as she's sitting with a bag of bum-rols she's bought in cutting the labels off so she can pass them off as her own. :shock:

Example 3: at the market last weekend I had a surcote hanging up on the back of my stall. It was an order that was being picked up. A guy came round the back of the stall, having been told three times that he couldn't try it on because it was an order. He tried to order one (I think I might have upset him a bit when I involuntarily laughed as I told him I couldn't do it in three weeks, but that it'd be August at the earliest :? oops).

Anyway - half an hour later another costumer, (different one this time),who does not specialise in medieval (in fact I didn't even know she could do medieval!!), came up with her notebook in hand and proceeded to draw a sketch of the surcote (which btw was heraldic and in somebodies personal colours!!!!).
With that one I just consoled myself with the fact that I know my customer and I know that anyone on a field in the future in his colours will be stomped into the mud with extra stompiness :lol: .

Anyway - annoyed now, so going to have hot bath to calm down.


Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 10:22 pm
by Shadowcat
I find that it irritating when I see a garment I know I made turn up on someone else's web site with the implication the the web owner made it. This has happened on more than one occasion. All I want is an acknowledgement, not more money!


Posted: Sat Mar 25, 2006 12:14 pm
by agesofelegance
Hi Lucy
Aww thanks for those compliments you are very kind & we do try :-)

On thing I did want to say re the price ratio though was that the stuff you produce has to be worth that price no matter what end you are at

If you make £10 shirts then the customer doen'st really expect them to last more than a season, same as you wouldn't if you bought at Primark et al but if you charge £100 then they expect them to last a very long time or else, so the quality of the latter item needs to be 10 times better than the first one or you are in big trouble.

Andrew and myself have a friend who is a saville row tailor his nelson uniforms run in around £5,000 and are bought by people who will happily pay that and would be suspicious if it was less. But they are to die for, in fact probably too good for the period. I can only aspire to work buttonholes that perfect etc. Someone asked me to make one of his quality. i said there was no way I could do it as I wasn't that good. The best I could do was about £2,500 worth and that was the quality level as well and that's what I did. I could have charged the £5,000 but then I wouldn't have been up to that level of workmanship and the hassle would have been tremendous so it really wasn't worth it. So you have to find your own niche and be comfortable within it but aspire to better things I suppose and not take on too much so that you don't get the time to develop those skills.

One of the nice things about taking the last couple fo years off because of illness is that I've had time to take stock of the business and what I want to do with it and also sit down and look at making all those show pieces we never get time to do because we are too busy making for everyone else and our own kit looks like crap :oops:

Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 12:41 pm
by Pete the Pong
Hi there everybody,
I've only just come across this thread -maybe we should ask Cal to start a "traders" forum!!!!!
Costing and time is a minefield. Sometimes a small simple job takes hours, then the one you though would take you all day turns out to take 10 minutes. I both make things (the books) and buy/sell -incense etc. At the end, not of the day, but of the year I look back and work out not how much monety I've made, if I've paid all the bills and had a good time.
In my experience a lot of traders underestimate the amount you can claim as expenses. My understanding is that you can claim ANYTHING that is directly concerned with your work/ And if your work is also your way of life.....
And if in doubt -ASK THE TAX MEN! they are very helpful. For instance we are planning to go to Peru this autumn, and whilst we are there I want to research the Inca's use of incense. I phone the tax people to find what proportion of my expences were allowable and I was told that (excluding sightseeing) the figure was 100%
The whole point about our type of trading is that IMHO it's not about getting rich quickly. (Or for that matter even slowly). But it is all about having a fantastic lifestyle!

Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 12:56 pm
by Drachelis
I agree with you Pete - making clothes far outweighs standing in from of 30 teenagers being abused for 5 hours and unfortunately that is what a lot of teaching has become.

Doing this I can sit with my poor disabled feet up watching the telly saving the cutting out for days when I can spend a few hours on my feet. I don't have to travel to wrk everyday - and I can fit it around my style of day - housework in the morning and sewing in the afternoon nd evening.

All in all the rewards are greater too - it gives me a real thrill to see folk wearing my garments at events and looking great in them.

I can claw about as much in a day as I would do supply teaching without the amount of stress - ( well apart frowrestling jacks) good fun and good friends at events.

today I am enveloped in clouds of chocolate bunny fluff as I edge the miles round a certain gentleman's houppelande.

Its a good life.

By the way, Pete, I think a forum just for traders might be a good idea - I wonder if Cal would give us one - there are lots of issue - not only price and trading standards that we could all do to pool our knowledge on.
Shadowlight designs

Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 1:00 pm
by Skevmeister

I reckpon your idea of a traders forums is great. I know I would find it useful to have a one stop shop to see what traders there are.

I have read this thread with interest, I as a relative newby, and two of us to kit out can't afford all the best kit, but me and TQO are trying to make our own, as I realise that kit takes time to make and that I don't always have the money when I want the kit and the people who make the kit have full order books, so we bite the bullet do our own research by patterns and struggle to get it all to work.

But following on a comment that Dathi made, when people pay me to do my job (I am self employed as well) they pay me for my knowledge and expertise, the fact that something comes out at the end is the product of 20 years of study and training and research.

When my customers ask me to spend six months developing something for them and then go you want WHAT !!! you've got to be kidding, I basically tell them that if they wanted that they could employ a contractor for that period (at about £15 quid an hour more than I charge at current market rates) for the 6 months or go to a cheaper place. I don't bargain my rates any more, they're my rates and if you don't like them go somewhere else.

I think that people sit up and listen to this more than negotiating with them as they seem to respect this attitude.


Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 4:47 pm
by Neibelungen
I'd agree, a trader's forum might be a good idea, though I'd have to be a little carefull about letting it expand as simply an advertising spot.

I know we're all trying to make money, but I think over cemercialising things wouldn't be good. If you want to advertise, buy a banner at the top.

That said, replying to a costume question about a specific thing should be fair game, as it's an answer to a question.. even if a bit blatant.

I guess you have to run it for a while and see how it goes or what the response is like.

In one way a trader's forum would be a good means for traders to help themselves and find a common source for information of a commercial nature.

Thing's like webhosting, shopping-cart, dealing with banks, paypal, overseas customers. Most of us learn the hard way what works and what doesn't and sharing that advice would, even just for one person, would be worthwhile.

We might even be able to stop some copying happening, or at least make people aware when it happens.

And if we can help improve quality of items and services within the re-enactment scene , then that would be a bonus.

Only thing I'd would dissallw would be people complaining about a certain trader openly. Not because a bit of bad publicity wouldn't help improve mistakes, but really that's a private matter between an individual and a customer and could easily end up in just a slanging match. And that wouldn't be any help.

Just my veiws.

Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 4:55 pm
by agesofelegance
I think a traders forum would be a good idea to help people with various issues and a as place for us to debate business problems such as this

I think Neib mentioned it on the first page as a more workable option to a guild ATM and was waiting for others to run with it

Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 5:12 pm
by PaulMurphy
Would there be any occasions when you would want to discuss things on a traders' forum without non-traders having access? Things like non-payment from customers, or event organisers who you had issues with, where you want to state some facts and have other traders know about it without necessarily having everyone else on the site reading it?

If the answer is yes, perhaps it would be better to set up a members-only area defined by a user group, or set up a forum elsewhere specifically for this? Maybe via the NMTF?

If you'd be happy to have everyone see it, and it could avoid the usual legal issues associated with discussing business publicly, then I see no reason why it shouldn't be on here, and would support a request to create it.


Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 6:13 pm
by House of De Clifford
I would find a traders forum very useful, for example in this particular thread i have learned about tax expenses, trading standards, non re enactment marketing etc... not to mention getting to know more of my fellow trader colleagues out there, i agree that the traders forum should not be a blatant advertising thread, we can do that through buy and sell, but if it was a members only area ( eg through our NMTF membership no) we might have the opportunity to avoid problems and mishaps, copies , non paymentors ( as i know has been mentioned on this thread a few times),
at the same time pick the brains of those who have years and years of experience........
I know there was an AGM of the NMTF at an event last year, but i know that some traders were not able to attend, a forum would therfore give us a chance to discuss these issues openly, which sometimes should/could be done privately.... not trying to be cliquie ( sp?) just think we have alot to share with each other. Sometimes it is useful for the traders (makers or sellers, event attenders or website traders) to speak with one voice.... what d'ya think?
oops i think i may have helped this thread to go off on a tangent... sorry!! hope you don't mind it v. interesting tho'


Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 6:22 pm
by sally
PaulMurphy wrote:
If the answer is yes, perhaps it would be better to set up a members-only area defined by a user group, or set up a forum elsewhere specifically for this? Maybe via the NMTF?

There are already a couple of yahoo groups for historic traders, tend to be fairly quiet but I've always had a quick sensible answer when I''ve posted a trading question there.

Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 6:28 pm
by agesofelegance
some of us who don't trade regularly are not members of the NMTF.
I checked it out once but wasn't really worth my while